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Communications and Public Affairs


Use these grammar, style and usage guidelines to standardize all of your University of South Carolina communications.

Our grammar and style guideline gurus are AP Style and Webster’s New World College Dictionary with only a few exceptions. Search our style specifics below.

University of South Carolina

  • Use University of South Carolina on the first reference. Thereafter, other terms such as South Carolina, Carolina, UofSC, USC and the university may be used to add variety. When targeting national or international audiences, use the term USC sparingly.
  • Lowercase the t when formally referring to the University of South Carolina, and omit the when the name stands alone.
  • Formal written reference to a campus should consist of University of South Carolina followed by a word space and the name of the individual campus. Do not use a hyphen, dash or comma before the campus name.
  • Do not use prepositions such as in or at: refer to the University of South Carolina Columbia, University of South Carolina Aiken or USC Aiken, or University of South Carolina Beaufort or USC Beaufort.
  • Refer to Aiken, Beaufort and Upstate as comprehensive or four-year campuses.
  • Refer to Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter and Union as regional campuses. Do not refer to them as two-year or branch campuses.
  • When referring informally to any campus, do not capitalize the word campus.
Named Schools
  • Use the Darla Moore School of Business as first reference. Moore School is an acceptable second reference.
  • Use Arnold School of Public Health for all standard references. The full name — The Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health — should be used only for formal occasions (e.g., commencement) or for legal purposes. Arnold School is an acceptable second reference.
  • The official name of The Graduate School includes The, and it is always capitalized.
Degrees Listed with Alumni Names

When listing earned degrees with alumni names, the preferred order is year, degree name (lowercase), discipline (if listed, lowercase). Do not place a comma between the year and degree name, but do place a comma between the degree name and discipline. Use of parentheses around degree information is optional.

  • Madison Dinkum, 1997 law
  • Madison Dinkum, 1995 master's
  • Madison Dinkum, 1993 B.A., history
  • Madison Dinkum (1995 master's, history)
  • Madison Dinkum, '07 (Accepted in Carolinian)


  • Official names of departments when used in text. For example: He enrolled in USC’s Department of Civil Engineering. Exceptions: The South Carolina Honors College may be referred to as the Honors College to prevent repetition when the name is attached to the University of South Carolina. The term University Libraries denotes the administrative unit of the Division of Libraries and Information Systems while the physical locations are referred to as university libraries.
  • Conferred, traditional, educational, occupational and business titles when used specifically in front of the name. These terms are not capitalized when they follow the name. For example: President Harris Pastides; Les Sternberg, dean; and Professor T.S. Sudarshan is chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering. Note: In tabular matter and addresses, these titles may be capitalized. Exception: When a word such as former is used in conjunction with a title and name, the title does not get capitalized, as it is considered part of a compound adjective. For example: former president John M. Palms
  • The words association, building, center, club, conference, department, division, hall, office, program, senate, street, etc., when used as part of a title. Thereafter, do not capitalize the words when used alone to refer to that specific place or group. For example: the Faculty Senate becomes the senate; the Department of History becomes the department; the Audiovisual Center becomes the center; and the Marine Science Program becomes the program.
  • The words offices, colleges and departments, when referring to more than one individual office, college or department. For example: Colleges of Education and Nursing
  • Refer to the Board of Trustees on first reference and trustees thereafter.
  • A specific course or subject. For example: ENGL 285 Themes in American Writing
  • Names of athletic clubs and teams. For example: the Gamecocks or the Carolina Panthers
  • The word room when used to designate a particular room. For example: Room 21 of Gambrell Hall
  • Official college degrees when spelled out. For example: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Philosophy, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree
Do Not Capitalize
  • Stand-alone words such as college, school, department, office, division, association and conference, even if they refer to a specific, previously identified entity
  • Titles standing alone or in apposition. For example: The dean of the Moore School of Business must approve all research papers; Contact the budget director for further information; Nancy A. Smith, professor of English, will speak at the symposium.
  • Names of school or college studies, fields of study, options, curricula, major areas, or major subjects, except languages, unless a specific course is being referred to. For example: He is studying philosophy and English; Each student must meet core requirements in biological sciences and liberal arts; The university offers a curriculum in textiles and clothing.
  • The unofficial or informal names of departments when used in text. For example: He enrolled in the civil engineering department.
  • Organized groups or classes of students in a university or high school, or the words freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or graduate. For example: John Smith is a junior in the College of Engineering and Computing; The senior class will hold its annual election tomorrow. Exception: Class is capitalized when referring to a class according to its year of graduation. For example: The program was made possible by a gift from the Class of 1988; The Class of 2004 initiated environmental awareness week.

General Usage 

  • Complimentary titles, such as Mr., Mrs., and Dr., but do not use them in combination with any other title or with abbreviations indicating scholastic or academic degrees. These and similar titles are typically not used in running text after first reference. For example: Paul Huston, Ph.D., not Dr. Paul Huston, Ph.D.; Carol Green, M.D., or Roger White, D.V.M., not Dr. Carol Green, M.D., or Mr. Roger White, D.V.M.
  • The degrees Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Master of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and Associate in Science to B.S., M.S., M.A., Ph.D., M.D., B.F.A., B.A.I.S. and A.S., respectively. 
  • Use GPA in caps without periods. Do not use the term GPR.
  • When it is necessary to use a subject-matter designation and course number to identify a specific course, e.g., ENGL 101 Composition, use the official course code.
  • When names of universities, government agencies or other organizations are abbreviated as acronyms (first letter of each word), use full caps with no periods. For example: USC (not U.S.C.), ROTC and MIT. Stick to well-known abbreviations and minimize use of acronyms.
  • Omit S.C. in conjunction with Columbia only when the piece is aimed at a local audience.
  • doctorate (noun) and doctoral (adjective)
  • freshman (adjective) For example: freshman enrollment (never the freshmen enrollment)
  • international students (not foreign students)
  • internet, web, website and email addresses should be written all lowercase, unless the address is case sensitive. For example:
  • When a web address begins with www. or similar, it is not necessary to include http://
  • online (no hyphen)
  • homepage (lowercase, one word)
  • cellphone and smartphone (one word, no space)
  • hotline (one word, no space)
  • A long URL or email address may be broken and continued on a second line. Do not add a hyphen where the break appears; instead, make sure the break is after a slash or period in the web address
  • When writing any span of time that mixes 20th- and 21st-century dates, the full year must be given for both. For example: 1998-2002, not 1998-02
  • When citing class designations, if classes from the 20th and 21st centuries are listed, the full year must be given for all classes mentioned. For example: When the time capsule placed by the Class of 1955 is opened, members of the Class of 2005 will replace it with one of their own.
  • Do not attach the phrase the year to 2000 or beyond. Treat such references as any other year noted.
  • The university celebrated its bicentennial in 2001.
  • African-American is hyphenated in all uses
  • Avoid using African-American with other racial styles. For example: do not use African-American students made up half the university’s population; the rest were white. Instead, use Half the students were black; half were white.
  • Alumnus denotes one male graduate; alumna is one female graduate; alumni is the plural reference to a mixed gender group of graduates; and alumnae is a group of female graduates.
  • catalog, not catalogue
  • Chair is acceptable when referring to a faculty member who holds a chair professorship or is an endowed chair. Use chairman or chairwoman when referring to a faculty member who holds that position of leadership within an academic department.
  • course work, not coursework
  • credit-hour (adjective), credit hour (noun)
  • fundraising (noun), fundraising (adjective), fundraiser (noun)
  • grade point average, not grade-point average
  • State House when referring to the S.C. capitol
  • theater except when the official name of a building or department, when it should be capitalized
Higher Education 
  • teen, teenager (noun) or teenage (adjective). Do not use teenaged.
  • Capitalize and spell out formal academic titles such as chancellor and chairman when preceding a name. Lowercase elsewhere.
  • If mention of academic degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology. Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, master’s, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science or associate degree. Use abbreviations such as B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. Use abbreviations only after a full name; never after just a last name. When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas. For example: John Snow, Ph.D., spoke. Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference.
  • Use only the initials ACT; not American College Testing
Equal Opportunity Statement
  • For university bulletins and other lengthy university publications used for recruitment purposes (especially those containing curricula/course listings): The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation, or veteran status. The University of South Carolina has designated as the ADA Title II, Section 504, and Title IX coordinator the Executive Assistant to the President for Equal Opportunity Programs. The Office of the Executive Assistant to the President for Equal Opportunity Programs is located at 1600 Hampton Street, Suite 805, Columbia, SC; telephone 803-777-3854.
  • For smaller recruitment booklets and brochures: The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
  • For general brochures, flyers, posters and other short items: The University of South Carolina is an equal opportunity institution.
  • For official university stationery: An equal opportunity institution
Special Exceptions
  • aka (no periods)
  • timeout (one word)
  • offline (no hyphen)
  • sports writer (two words)
  • sweatpants, sweatshirt and sweatsuit (one word)
  • Profit-sharing is both a noun and adjective and always includes a hyphen.
  • Startup is both a noun and adjective to describe a new business venture and appears as one word.